We catch up with Jim and Matt from Big Jim's BBQ Steakhouse.
I feel like I’m missing out on something this morning, as I sit down outside Big Jim’s BBQ Steakhouse in Clay Cross with owners James Fisher and business partner Matt Page, the beef brisket from the freshly stoked smoker smells great, just a shame it’s eight hours away from being ready!
Big Jim’s BBQ Steakhouse is the brainchild of two friends which came together after one simply said to the other ‘do you fancy taking on Charlie’s Bar in Clay Cross and opening our own steakhouse?’
“Once it was clear it was a serious proposal and not a joke,” said Jim, “I was in.”
Jim has been a chef for almost 20 years, he learnt his trade at Chesterfield College and like many chefs has worked his way around many well-known local establishments before family life and kids arrived.
“Until now I’d worked in smaller restaurants and rented a kitchen in the barn at the Chesterfield Arms, until I started working for myself, I opened a sandwich shop, and we took on a catering van so we could do artisan markets, weddings, events etc.
“I started to develop an American style, smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, fried chicken etc. I really enjoy these types of dishes; people love them and it’s so satisfying to be doing something people enjoy eating.”
I was enjoying what I was doing, but when the text arrived it felt as though the time was right for a change. The pair recognise the positive change that’s taking place in Clay Cross, an old mining town is now home to hundreds, if not thousands of new residents as the Avenue site is redeveloped and high-quality housing goes up around the town.
“We signed the lease in January this year and opened on 12 April with about 70 outdoor seats, we are serving food that’s British and very local, it’s all COVID compliant and feedback has been fantastic,” says Jim. “It’s essential to us that we support local suppliers, our meats are from Owen Taylors, who are proud to boast that all animals are from a 30-mile radius, our Aberdeen Angus comes from Stanfree Farm, we get out fruit and veg from Smarties in Claycross, Ginspired supply some of our gins and spirits, ice cream comes from Smiths Creamland Icecream and we strive hard to support local suppliers and businesses in everything we do.
“This has already proved useful, a customer recently had quite specific dietary needs that related to antibiotics used by the cows from which we source our meat, I was able to talk directly to our supplier and ensure that they were good to go for our customer.”
'feedback has been so positive.
Our food is being so well received, the St Louis ribs are going down great'
Matt is studying a degree in business and stepped away from full time employment to partner with Jim. “I love a spreadsheet, so it’s a great partnership, I’m happy with books, plans and figures, Jim knows his food and between us we plan where the business is headed,” explains Matt.
“Clay Cross has been impacted by the lockdown; the snooker hall that had 25 tables hasn’t survived so we’ve got rid of the function room and put in a full-size snooker table with match cloth, we already have three local teams that will be using the space once we can provide an indoor service. The room has its own bar, dart board and will provide space for locals to meet away from the hustle and bustle of the food areas downstairs.
“We have Nigel Bond, top professional snooker player from Darley Dale lined up to hold an exhibition match, so keep an eye out for this.
“We’ve had some fantastic support in getting this new business off the ground and must pass on our thanks to the Derbyshire Chamber of Commerce, in particular for an exciting venture we’re working on that may see our products in a premium retailer, all I can say is watch this space!” Matt adds.
Big Jim’s BBQ Steakhouse has been a no expense spared refurbishment, all seating has been replaced, every surface has been made over and the place retains the feel of a rustic pub but is a 100% family friendly restaurant. The carvery area came with the pub so the team will be offering a Sunday roast as soon as they are able, the outdoor space is heated, and there is an indoor area perfect for bands to play, so live music is already being scheduled.
Jim and Matt are clearly looking forward to the months ahead, lots planned, man v food challenges, events, music, specials, family days plus Jim also plans to offer a range of BBQ rubs and sauces to take the Big Jim’s BBQ Steakhouse taste home … plus their own smoked cheeses to accompany your burger!
So how have the first few weeks been? “We’ve not had one bad word; feedback has been so positive. Our food is being so well received, the St Louis ribs are going down great, we select ribs with just the right fat content so it renders down as they slowly smoke, I have to admit they are really tasty,” adds Jim. “Our beef brisket is selling well and so is the Mighty Meaty Burger.